If your ears get hot, itchy and bothered, it can mean a few different things. One thing is certain: it’s not a good idea to poke anything inside your ear!
Let’s take a look at possible causes for itchy ears:
Ear wax is a natural substance that your body produces to keep the ear canal lubricated and protected from anything that gets inside, whether dust or pollen or microbes. Too little ear wax can make the ear canal dry and itchy, and too much can also feel tickly and uncomfortable.
Try to resist trying to remove ear wax! It is mostly self-regulatory; if there’s a build-up that causes discomfort or makes it difficult for you to hear, you can have it professionally cleaned.
Sometimes the ear canal gets infected by bacteria, which can make the skin inflamed and itchy. This is known as otitis media, but sometimes gets called ‘swimmers’ ear’ because of its association with spending a long time in damp conditions. Not all cases of otitis media are caused by humidity; some infections are caused by the delicate skin of the ear being damaged by fingernails or cotton buds, or by an overgrowth of microbes on the skin.
If you have an itchy, inflamed, sore or dry ear, consider what’s been in contact with your skin. Skin can react to all sorts of substances, including metal in jewellery, hairspray, ingredients in your shower gel or shampoo, or the material headphones or headsets are made out of, so make sure you look carefully at all possible culprits.
Inflammatory skin conditions
As well as contact dermatitis, ears can be affected by atopic dermatitis (ie eczema), seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. These conditions can cause problems for skin anywhere on the body, including the skin of the ear canal. A build-up of skin flakes, ooze or crusts can feel uncomfortable, and inflammation inside such a small space can add to the discomfort.
It’s also possible that tickly ears can be caused by something you’ve eaten, especially if you’re allergic to pollen. Foods that can trigger this kind of reaction include some nuts and fruits. Talk to your doctor about this if you’re worried, so you can get properly allergy tested.
Try these three steps to soothe itchy or irritated ears:
1. Avoid irritants
Check everything you put on or around your ears for ingredients that might be causing irritation. Shampoos are often the cause of irritated skin, so make sure you’re using an extra gentle one.
Although it’s hard to use emollients inside the ear, make sure that you’re keeping as much of your ear as you can reach (without poking inside it) well hydrated with suitable emollients. Skin Salvation is a good choice for a gentle, non-stinging moisturiser as it can be applied relatively thickly and will stay on where it’s needed! Apply around the outer ear as often as required.
3. Apply oil
To help with dry or inflamed ears, you can use a very small amount of natural oil. Don’t use a cotton bud to go deep into the ear, although you can apply the oil to the outer ear with one. If you need the oil to reach further inside, drop some warm oil in from above.
Balmonds Scalp Oil can be used for this purpose; it’s 100% natural and made with antimicrobial herbal oils that should help soothe the itch and help protect against infection. Just warm up a small amount in a tablespoon, and use a dropper to drip a couple of drops into the ear.
If the itchiness doesn’t improve, or worsens, or if you develop a fever, see your doctor or pharmacist. They may prescribe antibiotics or topical steroid drops.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Scalp Oil
with tea tree, nettle, borage & rosemary
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.